University members prepare for the opening of Scott Hall

Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University

The Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall is the most recent addition to the Carnegie Mellon campus. The new home for the Biomedical Engineering Department, Nano Fabrication, and Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, set to officially open on April 30, is by far one of the most uniquely designed buildings on campus. Nestled in the area between Wean and Hamerschlag Halls, Scott Hall’s glass exterior stands out amongst the concrete and brick architecture of its neighboring buildings. This building serves as a hub for the College of Engineering, while also providing connections between integral areas of campus.

One of the main goals of Scott Hall is to foster a sense of collaboration. “Scott Hall fits like a jigsaw piece into Carnegie Mellon’s campus and was designed with the university’s culture of collaboration and sustainability in mind,” College of Engineering Dean, James Garrett Jr. said. Scott Hall consists of two main spaces, the North Wing and the John Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory. These spaces are connected by the Arthur C. Ruge Atrium, which will house a café area, and the Collaboratory, “a four-story space that connects the levels of the North Wing of the building,” according to Garrett. The Collaboratory “connects all four floors of the building [and] it has this big beautiful [staircase] in it that sort of brings people into the building and allows them to move between floors,” said Isaac Campbell, principal of OFFICE 52 Architecture. Campbell described the space as a “vertical mixer for the different disciplines of the building.” Campbell also explained that true collaboration is not just about sharing a building with another discipline. “[A] lot of the magic happens in the social activity,” he said. “You run into someone in line getting a sandwich and then you get talking about something and then pretty soon you realize that even though your work is very different, you’re actually working on the same thing from different perspectives and then next thing you know, you’re writing a grant proposal.”

There was also a lot of thought put into the design choices that went into making Scott Hall an elevated, four-story building rather than a seven-story building that began at the base of Junction Hollow. “The North Wing is a multicolored glass structure that sits elegantly over Junction Hollow on a sculptural composition of angled white steel columns, which are strategically placed in the overall design to avoid the utilities below,” Garrett said. Campbell elaborated on this, noting that beginning the building at the base of Junction Hollow “was going to force us to be much closer to the railroad tracks, which was going to be a big problem for the labs. By putting the building up on the columns we were able to leave the utilities in the hillside which saved a ton of money.” Campbell also explained that they “were able to take the most sensitive labs and were able to put them in the courtyard” underneath the grassy area in order to “make those labs more functional.” This idea also opened up the area to the rest of campus instead of being cut off by shrubbery. He explained how the courtyard area really made the campus feel more opened up and connected all the way back past the mall and into the College of Fine Arts lawn.

Campbell also explained the reasoning behind the numbering of the floors in Scott Hall. “The floor levels in the building had to be staggered because of height restrictions,” he said. In order for the building to be able to connect to Wean Hall on one side and Hamerschlag Hall on the other side, the floors needed to be slightly offset. This connectivity also goes to further strengthen the idea of bridging the gap that existed between some of the buildings on campus. Aside from connecting the buildings, Scott Hall also connects people simply by being on campus. Campbell said he understands that “the university is squeezed for space and the campus is kind of boxed in and has actively been working to find areas where it can grow.” This lack of space has forced expansion into Craig Street and across Forbes Avenue because there isn’t much space left on campus to develop. By keeping Scott Hall on campus, despite space constraints, Campbell was able to foster connectivity and make accessing Baker Hall and Scaife Hall much easier.

Scott Hall is also an innovative hub designed to foster interdisciplinary research. “The new space enriches the campus fabric and strengthens connectivity by linking four major buildings: Hamerschlag, Porter, Roberts and Wean Halls,” said Campbell. “[It] very much fits in with the collaborative and interdisciplinary culture at the university.” Between the open North Wing and the Collaboratory, it is clear that Scott Hall was designed with the collaborative nature of the university in mind.

The café will be open for business on Wednesday April 27, and Campus Design and Facility Development expect the Nano Fabrication facility to be operational by fall 2016. The campus-wide celebration for the opening of the Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall will take place in the building on Saturday, April 30 at 11 a.m.